Grammy-nominated poet J. Ivy tells creatives to keep perfecting their craft

Fresh off his Grammy nomination for best spoken word album, J. Ivy feels like he’s peaking in his career at the right time.

The 45-year-old poet had a special message for any individual who feels the need to measure themselves by an imaginary clock.


“There [are] a lot of elements out here that affect us, and ageism is one of them,” J. Ivy told rolling out. “We need to do away with that.”

The album J. Ivy has been nominated for is Catching Dreams: Live at Fort Knox Chicago.


The Chicago native is in elite company with his nomination, going against Aftermath by LeVar Burton, Carry On: Reflections For A New Generation From John Lewis by Don Cheadle, 8:46 by Dave Chappelle and Amir Sulaiman and A Promised Land by Barack Obama.

“It is surreal to be surrounded by greatness to be in a category with folks that you looked up to, from childhood to adulthood,” Ivy said. “For it to be a category filled with what — all Black men — is a state of powerful statement in itself.”

It was a project he recorded with just his band and a camera crew, filmed when mass crowds in Chicago still weren’t permitted to gather due to COVID-19. This winter, Ivy is currently premiering film screenings at selection locations throughout the United States. On Dec. 12, 2021, he stopped by Atlanta to show the film to an audience of all ages as attendees were given a complimentary box of popcorn and soft drinks to enjoy.

Ivy’s wife and “stage partner” Tarray Torae wowed the crowd with her vocal abilities, especially toward the end of the album with impressive runs showing off her range. The poet received a rousing ovation as he headed up to the stage following the screening.

“When the responsibility and job that comes with creating is to touch somebody’s soul, touch somebody’s heart, it doesn’t matter how old you are,” J. Ivy said. “It really doesn’t matter. You look at a painting on the wall, it doesn’t matter how old that person was that created it.”

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